By Ritchie Yorke
October 30, 2005
AT HOME in her beloved Santa Monica mansion, Stevie Nicks (pictured) is feeling the thrill of a returning songwriting buzz.
For the first time in more than 18 months, the 57-year-old sex siren of the shimmering ’70s has put pen to paper.
The new song is an ode to New Orleans, as yet untitled, but bound to wring a few more drops of emotion from that familiar Southern whipping post.
“I’m in the middle of writing a happy song – not a sad song – about the plight of New Orleans.
“I have so many memories of New Orleans because we always play there.
“I’m not gonna write a really miserable song,” she ruefully declares. “I’m going to write a song about the New Orleans that was – and hopefully will come again.
“This is the first song that I’ve written in over 18 months. The last songs I wrote were the four tunes I wrote for the Say You Will project (2003). Since then I’ve written nothing.”
But she’s certainly had her eyes tightly focused on other balls, such as performing.
“Well yes. After we, Fleetwood Mac, left you guys in 2004, we went back to the States and did another four months of shows. Then I went into pre-production for myself and started out with four shows in Virginia in May.
“Then I did 10 shows with Don Henley and that was lots of fun. Then I followed up with 20 shows by myself and I’m into a little break time now. But we’re rehearsed and ready to go.”
Accompanying Nicks on her double header with John Farnham at the Entertainment Centre on February 20, will be a distinguished nine-man band under the direction of the redoubtable Waddy Wachtel.
Some observers might suggest that Wachtel’s talents alone are worth the price of admission. But that might cast unfair aspersions at the feet of two honest triers such as Nicks and Farnham.
“Waddy is my musical director and he plays guitar for me. He really doesn’t go out on the road with anyone else except me. He’s like my Keith Richards and I’m happy, frankly, that he’s not out doing everybody’s stuff. He stays in town, mainly working on film and TV projects,” she says, with just a touch of elitism.
“There’s parts of this band of mine that go way, way back.”
With an extensive punter-friendly repertoire that includes such gems as Bella Donna, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Edge of Seventeen, White Wing Dove and Leather and Lace, Stevie operates from a pretty special place in the public psyche.
The Australian response to last year’s Fleetwood Mac-athon was a key reason driving Stevie’s desire to get back Down Under. But equally significant was a timely invitation from the tuned-in Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for Nicks t
o join them in a high profile union. She’s flown out to Australia this weekend to announce the symphony gig and to attend Tuesday’s big puntathon at Flemington.
If she seemed a tad flustered during our conversation, there was ample reason for it.
“My father passed away about six weeks ago. It was sad but it’s OK. He was in a lot of pain and needed to move on. But it put me into a bit of a different space.
“So I should remember to tell you that there’s a Best Of retrospective coming out to tie-in with the tour. But there won’t be any new tracks. When I came off the road six weeks ago, I just didn’t have the time to do some new recording. And anyway, I didn’t have any new material until I started writing this song about New Orleans.”
Stevie Nicks will perform with John Farnham at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on February 20.